Tuesday, April 14, 2009

ESPN has no idea how the NHL Draft Lottery works

Either the people who run ESPN.com's Streak for the Cash have absolutely no clue how the NHL Draft Lottery works, or they wanted to give everyone a "freebie" today.

When trying to figure out which match-up to pick to extend my amazing streak (currently at 1 consecutive correct picks), I came across a very strange option:

SftC also provides a handy link to this explanation of how the NHL Draft Lottery works, which they apparently failed to read.

The Islanders have a 25 percent chance of being selected in the lottery, the Avalanche have a 14.2 percent chance, and the Thrashers have a 10.7 percent chance.

That adds up to 49.9 percent. Pretty much dead even, right?

Wrong. Because the question isn't which team will get selected in the lottery, it's which team will get the #1 pick. And there's a big difference.

Below the list of percentages on the link that SftC proviedes, the NHL explains that a team can only move up four spots in the draft order. That means that only the worst five teams in the NHL this season (Islanders, Lightning, Avalanche, Thrashers and Kings) have a shot at getting the #1 pick, while the other nine non-playoff teams can still have their name drawn but would only move up four spots.

So even though the Islanders only have a 25 percent chance of having their name drawn in the lottery, they still have a 48.2 percent chance of getting the #1 pick because if the Coyotes, Maple Leafs, Stars, Senators, Oilers, Predators, Wild, Sabres or Panthers have their name drawn (combined chances: 23.2 percent), they will not move ahead of the Isles and the Isles will still get the top choice in the draft.

So the prop really should have been "Who will get the #1 pick in the draft: The Islanders OR Any other team." Or it could have been, "Who will be SELECTED in the NHL Draft Lottery: Islanders/Avalanche/Thrashers OR Any other team."

As is, the odds of one of the three teams they listed getting the #1 pick is a whopping 73.1 percent. The only teams they didn't list that COULD get the #1 pick are the Lightning (18.8 percent) and the Kings (8.1 percent).

Apparently the Streak for the Cash players don't have the same reading comprehension issues, as almost 98 percent of them have picked the Isles/Avs/Thrashers option. Now watch the Lightning get picked and screw everyone over.

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